Syrian-American actor Jay Abdo (“Hologram for the King”) is set to play the lead in “Broadcast,” a drama about the atrocities of the Syrian civil war that will mark the directorial debut of U.S. actor and producer Grant Cramer.
Cramer has produced several indie pics of various genres, including Afghanistan-set Special Forces thriller “Lone Survivor,” which was shot in New Mexico. He more recently produced the Nicolas Cage horror-comedy “Willy’s Wonderland.”
Cramer initially came on board “Broadcast” as a producer and subsequently made it his passion project and directorial debut, according to a statement.
Abdo (pictured) was a big star in Syria before fleeing his homeland for the U.S. to escape persecution after speaking out against the government of Syrian President Bashar Assad. The actor is boarding “Broadcast” as both the pic’s protagonist and co-producer.
Once in the U.S., Abdo changed his first name from Jihad to Jay and landed roles opposite Tom Hanks in “Hologram” and Nicole Kidman in Werner Herzog’s “Queen of the Desert,” among other titles.
In “Broadcast,” Abdo will play a Syrian father who is desperately trying to flee his war-torn country with his family. He winds up forging an alliance with a young Western aid worker who is struggling to expose the civil war’s atrocities.
“As a refugee and artist myself, my heart bleeds over each family getting hurt, abandoned and shattered by war,” Abdo said in a statement. He called “Broadcast” “the voice of those forgotten, [who are] trying to tell the world, ‘We are here.'”
“In a country where journalism is a crime, where you could be tortured to death just for asking questions, revealing the truth is the most courageous yet dangerous act,” the Syrian actor added.
While there are lots of docs about the Syrian civil war, such as Oscar-nominated “For Sama,” the ongoing conflict that has killed half a million people and displaced almost 15 million has been rarely depicted in feature films, and certainly not by Hollywood.
Cramer will direct “Broadcast” from a script written by Dakota Gorman (“All About Sex,” “Aftermath”), though the pic’s current draft is penned by Cramer and B. Garida, who wrote the limited TV series “Reagan & Gorbachev.”
“Broadcast” originated with Los Angeles-based indie producer Nicole Rio’s Salt & Light Films. The pic is being produced by Rio and Cramer’s Landafar Entertainment in collaboration with production company Myth Division and its CEO Ramón Govea, who will executive produce the project.
Rio previously teamed with Gorman on the 2021 indie hit “All About Sex,” released by Gravitas Ventures and Myriad Pictures.